Thursday, August 1, 2019

Catching up: A lot going on, so check this out.


Art by Brian Lee, colored by Rebecca Coulthart

It's been a while since I posted about my new adventure, so let's catch up a bit.

Two years and still going strong:

Hard to believe that I've now been publishing role playing game books for two years!  It has been a LOT of work and has been possible through the support of wonderful backers on KickStarter and from the remarkable work of the freelance art team.

From the beginning, I've tried to learn from every project and worked to make every book better than the one that came before.  It can be quite tiring but I'm happy to say that I'm very pleased with each book I've released.  That is a HUGE thing to be able to say and it's only because I know that I did my very best effort with each project that I can feel that way.

There is a stack of "to do" projects sitting next to my little desk now.  Throughout this blog I have recommended that self-publishing writers / game designers take notes of every project concept that blossoms in their mind.  I've been doing that and now have a little over 100 (seriously) projects that I've noted.  Many of these ideas are getting scheduled for development while others have to wait their turn.  Some projects garner more interest than others and the momentum that builds behind them gives rise to discussions with artists, to KickStarter campaigns and the calculations of how to make them a reality.  IT. IS. AWESOME!

There are a LOT of projects I'll be releasing over the coming years, but here is where I reiterate one of my biggest points I return to on this blog:  "No one can enjoy your book until you write it".  In other words, you just need to do it.  Please remember that a bad draft is still MUCH better than no draft at all. Hit the keys, pick up a pen and paper, write down your ideas.  Even if it's vague or strange, (Example:  'book about goblins getting murdered by evil heroes').  Come back to what excites you and get to work.

Cover of Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock
Artist: Brian Lee


Work life balance:

Writing, game design, coordinating your release schedule, dealing with printers, running crowdfunding campaigns and all the various little tasks you do when you publish your own work take up considerable amounts of time.  I recommend that you DO NOT let your writing and publishing intrude to far into your personal life. 

I'm a single father.  I work a day job, one that I actually enjoy, then pick up my child from school and we head to the park or go home and play.  I make dinner, we eat, play time gives way to getting cleaned up for bedtime, we have reading time and then it's lights out for the little human.  Even though I love writing, I love my kids far more.  Even with deadlines fast approaching I make every effort to keep my time with the kids sacred.  Don't get me wrong, there have been a few times when I've had to compromise a few hours, but it bothers me to do so.  I don't want to miss anything from their lives while they're so little. So, I work after bedtime, often until two in the morning, then I'm back up at six to get breakfast made and get our day started.  It is tiring.

Speaking of tiring, I'm normally good on four to six hours of sleep.  This is just how I'm made, and is definitely not for everyone.  Don't let my schedule intrude on yours.  The key take-away here is, don't miss out on family time to get your writing done.  Find time outside of those moments, in the quiet hours when it's 'me time' to put your ideas down. 

From "Whispers of Persephone"
Artist: Christian Martinez


Is there money in it yet?

Friends and family ask this of me sometime.  I think they assume I'm making money because I have put out several books over these two years and when you look at my KickStarter campaigns you see dollar signs.  I can tell you honestly, that after expenses I'm still just about breaking even.  Extra revenue, what would be 'profit' gets used up for art on new projects.   My list of books, posters, merchandise items and art that I own rights to, continues to grow but like so many of us I keep working the day job to pay the bills.  To my thinking, there is nothing wrong with that. 

When I started, people actually told me that I should wait until I had a few thousand followers on social media before I tried launching a KickStarter campaign. Nope, I didn't wait.  I still, to this day, don't have numbers like that.  What I can say is that I'm slowly approaching 200 followers on my personal KickStarter account and that, to me, means a lot.  It means that people who are happy to support creators have taken the time to follow so that they will get notice when I put out a campaign.  It is a great feeling.

But is there money in writing, in designing game content, in being your own boss?  Yes, I firmly believe there is.  I'm building for the long term, so I can leave my company to my kids one day, but I am optimistic for the future.  Someday, maybe when I write about being three or four years into publishing, I'll be saying 'Yes, there is money to be made"... time will tell I suppose.

D'Inn, the veteran goblin mercenary
Art by the amazing: Alexia Veldhuisen


Monthly Releases and Patreon:

I have a simple ambition that has grown from producing books.  One day I would like to release a lot of content for subscribers each month.  Sounds simple, right?

The truth of the matter is that funding art becomes pricey very quickly.  Currently, I fund it out of pocket with help from subscribers (now on Patreon).  So, I realize that seems pretty standard, but what I'm wanting to grow to isn't.  I aspire to release a monthly comic, a dystopian rpg "news sheet", a monthly pair of pin-up illustrations (one male & one female), the monthly PDF detailing a character/companion/creature/monster that I'm currently releasing, and adventures and news for a living campaign.  I want to combine this with a live stream to provide fun, good quality content that I can enjoy and be proud of.  Is that too much to ask for? (hmm... maybe, lol).

Fact is, it will take copious amounts of funding and I don't have that level of following, yet.  I say 'yet' not because I think it's inevitable (I certainly don't) but because I've watched an audience grow over the last few years.  It's a small, close knit audience certainly, but an audience I've been blessed with because they have been AMAZING!!!! So, I'm sticking to my guns on my opinion on the matter of growing your audience.  Creating the best quality content you can, being open and honest about missteps, and daring to put yourself out in front of folks to say "hey I made a thing!" is really a fantastic way to grow.  Is it slow?  Yes.  It's also what I'm comfortable with.

Now, last year I got some criticism for making comments on growing an audience when mine is so small.  There is a validity to that position in that conventional wisdom measures followers in the thousands as a minimum.  I just happen to disagree with that position.  I think an audience of five is just as important as an audience of five million (though not as financially beneficial).  Those five people following you think enough of your work to check it out so treasure them because they are important.

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Shameless self-promotion warning:  As I write this entry the Patreon page has been active for three days.  So far, three of the subscribers from the Drip page have migrated over and I have three new subscribers who have arrived.  I invite you to subscribe as well to receive the monthly PDF and to be a part of what I hope will become a growing community.  (Subscribe Here) Or use the button at the top of the page.  Thank you.
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Back to what's new:

                                                                Sinopa Omnibus

Collecting the monthly releases together into a biannual book proved to be a good idea.  From a formatting stand point, the book was simple to produce as the PDFs were already put together, so stitching them into one book was relatively easy.  This also appealed to KickStarter backers who are not fond of subscription formats and/or who prefer print over digital.  Bringing the Omnibus to KickStarter also allowed me the opportunity to release bonus content and to set up stretch goals to add even more.  The first volume funded fully and I'm cautiously optimistic about it as a recurring biannual title.  Volume Two will come to KickStarter in late September.

                                                          Break KickStarter!!!

As a subheading, 'Break KickStarter' is fun.  This a campaign theme being promoted by the folks at KickStarter as a sort of challenge to do things differently, shake up the status quo and to make things on KickStarter look different.  I'm rising to that challenge with the help of some very talented people as we work to fund Broken!

Title card designed and illustrated by: Zack ViolaClick on image to preview the KickStarter campaign

You can click on the title card image to preview the campaign page.

With this campaign we're working to create a new, never before seen role playing game.  But unlike the usual method, we're putting the choice of what is going into the game in the hands of the backers.  I've built the budget, assembled the art team and even lined up additional writers to help bring this game from nothing to play test in four months time. 

I'm very excited about creating Broken! and can't wait to see what the community chooses for it to become!

                                                        Fantasy Pin-Up Collection

Yes, you read that right.  We're putting together a fantasy pin-up collection.  These illustrations will be done in a tasteful manner reminiscent of the pin-ups of the 40s and 50s.  The pin-up girls for this first book will be from fantasy races straight out of tabletop role playing games and fantasy themed fiction.  This is going to be a beautiful little book and lots of fun to create.


                                   Tarot Adventures, Book Three: Death comes to Glenfallow

Several re-writes have gone by and now Death comes to Glenfallow is in its initial play test (the one I'm running).  After this adventure has been resolved, I'll make what corrections need be done, then send it on to the play test group for a good beating, err, I mean round of testing... yeah, that's it.  Art for this Tarot Adventure will be done by the remarkable Anthony Ojeda.  See the illustration below he did for Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow!

Goblins ambush the group in 'The Draw of Glenfallow'
Art by Anthony Ojeda



                                                                  47 Furious Tails

With the successful funding and release of 47 Furious Tails, Issue One I am thrilled to say I have released my first comic book!  This was a labor of love, requiring two kickstarter campaigns to get it funded, and months of illustration work by Alexia Veldhuisen.  The comic is gorgeous!  I'm really excited to be working on a few re-writes for issue two before we come back to KickStarter to fund book two.

Cover by Alexia Veldhuisen

In 2019 we've released issue one of 47 Furious Tails, the first Volume of the Sinopa Omnibus and the regional map of Glenfallow (the setting of the Tarot Adventures).  As you can see, it's been a busy year indeed.


There are several books in development at this time, and the Sinopa Assemble comic anthology is currently live on KickStarter.  You can support that campaign (please do) by clicking on the link to it in the Featured Crowdfunding Campaign, link above. 

*****

There is a lot going on in my new adventure.  I've had some successes, a few setbacks, some inspired ideas and some not-so-great.  KickStarter has been particularly kind to me and I look forward to breaking it with Broken!.  I'm enjoying the thrill of writing as well as the challenges of production. I've had the opportunity to share useful information with first time KickStarter creators and I'm very happy for their success.  I think the future is bright and I am looking forward to pushing my limits with each book.

Most importantly, I hope that the people who read my work, play in my games, and pick up my comics enjoy them every bit as much as I enjoy creating them.  Maybe then I am sharing some of my own joy with the world, and that just might make the world a little better.  I can hope so anyway.

Thank you for joining me on my adventure. I hope you'll join me for the next post as 'Adventure Awaits' and it's more fun to have such adventures with good company.

~ W.S. "Sam" Quinton




Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Tarot Adventures, Book Three: Death comes to Glenfallow

Art from Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow
Artist: Anthony Ojeda

The Tarot Adventures, my series of tabletop adventures for the 5th edition game mechanic.  This adventure has been a labor of love.  Artist Anthony Ojeda has graciously agreed to create the art for the book, and I'm extremely excited to see his art appearing in a Sinopa title again!

Writing an adventure for publication has proven to be a little different than writing for my home games.  At home you know the players, the characters and you can write to their story needs very readily.  With adventures for publication, you need to leave a LOT of room for game masters to add their own elements, introduce their campaign hooks, and provide challenges for a wide range of player character classes and types.

Designing the story:

The Tarot Adventures are each inspired by a particular card of the major arcana.  Book three pulls its inspiration from the Death card, symbolic of change and from the imagery the card conveys in the general public.  Death is dark, foreboding and scary.  The change element is nested in the underlying story of Glenfallow.  Players characters who survived the previous adventures will continue to play significant roles in the plot and will, quite literally, determine the course of the future of Pieron and Glenfallow.

Outlining the story across multiple adventures has proven to be incredibly useful.  I know where the story is going, how it can branch (for the most part, anyway) and how each adventure forms its own story within the grander tale.  This allows for great freedom at the individual story level while actually making it easier to avoid continuity conflicts.

Encounter design is really not much different from designing your home game.  Do note that it is important to consider the type of challenge you are trying to present.  For the Tarot Adventures, each book is designed to present a difficult to deadly challenge for the suggested level range. Find your sweet spot for difficulty and write to it.

Designing the look of the book:

Death comes to Glenfallow (I'm going to abbreviate that as DctG, going forward) is different from the first two in that there is only one artist creating the interior illustrations (for encounters) and the cover.  Books one and two had a wide range of artists and styles (which I rather like).   James Lee returns to create the ESS Map Pack (printable maps scaled for use with miniatures) and Nick Caponi has agreed to create the page border/background art.  A full color illustrated map of the Glenfallow region is being made available, the artist for that illustration has been contacted and contracts should be finalized in the coming months.

Art from Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow
Artist: Anthony Ojeda

Anthony and I have discussed a few things about the book but he will be creating the art based on his interpretations of the scenes and the flavor of the story itself.  With Anthony's talent, this promises to be a beautifully illustrated adventure!

Laying out the book to make it work:

With Comet over Echo Rock I coordinated the story line encounters with their accompanying illustrations.  The same will done with DctG to provide the game master and players with stunning visual references for the challenges they face.  Story encounters are laid out based on a chronological timeline, pushing the story ever closer to its conclusion like the inevitable arrival of death itself.

DctG will also incorporate random encounters.  This is being included as it diversifies the type of encounters and was something that backers of the KickStarter campaigns have asked about.  Adding random encounter data does increase the page count, but the value to the game master is immense.

Example dialogue will, as with the previous books, be provided along with the NPC and/or encounter data.  Example skill test results will continue to grace the pages to make things easier on the game master.

Encounter tracking tables will be provided for the story line encounters as well as for the random encounter tables.  I'm rather fond of this feature as they can be printed and used by the game master to easily track what encounters have been vanquished and which remain for use.

Treasure in DctG is scant on the ground, but with significant rewards available if the player characters can triumph over the evil that seeks to swallow Glenfallow up in death and darkness.  With Ild as the central villain, there is much for characters to fear.  Much of what is found has been looted from the victims of Ild's evil.  Whether the player characters return such treasure to the families or heirs of the victims is left up to them.  Is the good will of the survivors worth more than gold and silver?  Let the players decide.

NPCs and room for expansion:

Each Tarot Adventures book contains unique non-player characters and DctG is certainly no exception.  How your group interacts with these characters builds upon the story in ways that are simply impossible to predict.  Did the bard seduce one of the bar maids and if so how do her sisters react?  Is the Temple of the Sun blessing the cleric for her righteous efforts?  Can the fighter convince Pieron to allow him to built an outpost along the eastern river?  Is the warlock shunned for his unholy pact?  Will the thief lose a hand for stealing from shop?  These are just some of the possibilities that game masters have to take into consideration.  Fortunately, you don't have to provide information for each potential occurrence, nope that is the province of the game master.  Leaving room open for game masters to incorporate other elements, allowing for player choice to be a dynamic part of the game and weaving everything together in a fun way, that is the challenge faced by the writer / game designer.

DctG brings ample opportunity for game masters to incorporate their own material and to bring Glenfallow to their worlds. You're really only limited by your imagination.


What if the group can't defeat Ild?

Victory is by no means certain, it will take smart decisions, bravery and more than a little good luck to survive when Death comes to Glenfallow!

If Ild accomplishes her goals then Glenfallow becomes the scene for more harrowing adventures as the survivors seek either to escape from, or to put an end to, Ild.  Multiple outcomes are imagined so that even if many of the player characters are slain or captured, more adventures await.

Ild illustration from Whispers of Persephone
Artist: Christian Martinez


How it's made:

I crowdfund my projects so that I can pay the artists a fair rate for their work.  Remaining funds are applied toward future projects to help make it easier to reach future campaign goals.  I prefer KickStarter as a crowdfunding platform due to the fantastic level of support I've received from people, and the fact that a portion of all KickStarter profits are used for public benefit.

Once the campaign funds successfully and ends it usually takes 15 days before KickStarter can transmit the money to you.  When I receive funds for the project I pay the artists, usually that same day. The remaining money is used to purchase items related to fulfillment and then to ship those out to backers.  The whole crowdfunding process is geared toward bringing the product to market, giving backers the items first, and improving up the product to make it the best version you can produce.

After the fulfillment to backers you promote and sell your product to the best of your ability (this is something I'm still trying to improve upon).  If you possess a fine talent for sales then I think you'll find this to be a familiar and rewarding endeavor.

Art from Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow
Artist: Anthony Ojeda (pencils version)

Funding, KickStarter rewards and something for players:

In order to help reach the funding goal (there is a LOT of art going into this book), I'm opening a backer level reward tier specifically created for folks who don't plan to play as game master, but rather as players. This will be the Heroes of Glenfallow Tier and will include adding the backer's name to the backer credits (Heroes will have their own backer section) as well as a digital 'trinket' PDF that the backer can print off to represent the trinket in game (with Game Master approval, of course).

There will be several backer reward options, each created to appeal to people at different pledge amounts.  There will also be a very limited early backer reward tier which will only be accessible for the first 24 hours of the campaign.  This backer tier will grant the early backer all of the digital rewards at a substantially lower pledge point.

Digital backer rewards will include:
PDF copy of DctG
Print on demand codes through Drivethrurpg.com for soft and hard cover copies of the book
ESS Map Pack PDF for the adventure
Printable digital poster of the illustrated map of the Glenfallow region 
(this will allow backers to print the poster file locally, saving them money on production and shipping costs)

Other rewards:
Signed hard cover copies of the adventure
Having a place named on the map after the backer (this is limited to a small number of backers)
Having an NPC named after a backer (even more limited)
Having the adventure dedicated to you and up to five additional friends.

Look for Tarot Adventures, Book Three: Death comes to Glenfallow, coming to KickStarter summer of 2019.  I hope you'll check it out, support the project and have a fantastic time playing through the adventure.
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Thursday, January 24, 2019

47 Furious Tails and other cool comics on KickStarter

January 23rd, 2019 at 12:00 PM (noon) the campaign for 47 Furious Tails launched.  The response from backers was amazing!

In the first twelve hours of the campaign 45 backers pledged $1116 toward the campaign goal of $6500!  This was a huge day, particularly when compared to the first launch.  I'm thrilled by the response this project has received. (Thank you all!)

Promotion for the campaign:

47 Furious Tails has been promoted in a number of ways.  Update posts on the original campaign page have continued as new information became available, the project has been mentioned in every podcast I have appeared on, I've written entries about my mistakes on the first crowdfunding attempt both here and on the Drip page, flyers have gone out at comic shops and events, and I've enlisted the help of several folks who have been sharing the links on social media and on their various channels.

Is it enough?  Time will tell but I'm optimistic.

Coming promotions will include a number of podcast interviews.  I've been invited to two new shows since the launch (thanks guys!), which can only help raise awareness for the comic and the KickStarter campaign.  I'm looking forward to it.  This is also a great opportunity to meet new creators and share information/insights which is something I'm always excited about.

I was fortunate to once again appear on the Darkslinger Mafia Podcast to talk about 47 Furious Tails.  You can listen to that interview from the link below.




Other cool comics on KickStarter:

There are really interesting titles on KickStarter right now.  Below are a few I thought were particularly cool.

Cornrows #1 



If you missed my last blurb on this comic, don't wait, go check out the campaign which has a week left as of this writing.  The art is great and I, for one, think the story premise is fantastic.



Boston Metaphysical Society: The Spirit of Rebellion



New on Kickstarter and gaining steam, check this one out quickly before the special commission backer tier is all gone!


Mayo the Cat


Ending in the next few days, this cute book is funded but certainly deserves the shout out.  If you have children this looks like a good title to share with them (Disclaimer: I've only read through the KickStarter campaign, I haven't read the book.)

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Closing words and shameless self-promotion

People build communities to help each other and make life better.  In today's society we do the same as we promote others on social media, review products and write about our own experiences to help others avoid our own mistakes ( 😇 ).  I hope you each have great success in your own projects, that you'll learn from my (many) mistakes and that you too will benefit from other content creators offering up their advise and information to help make your path easier.

(Shameless self-promotion time)
I hope you'll check out 47 Furious Tails, Issue One; Cornrows Issue One; Mayo the Cat; and Boston Metaphysical Society: The Spirit of Rebellion.  Support the projects by sharing the links on social media and pledge your support if you can.

Thank you all for following my adventures in writing, self-publishing and game design.  Until next time please remember, Adventure Awaits.

W.S. Quinton


Monday, January 14, 2019

Three Live Comic and Games KickStarter campaigns (January 14th, 2019)

A little divergence from my usual content, today I want to shine the spotlight on some of the current KickStarter campaigns that I found interesting.  To be clear, none of the campaigns mentioned here have any association with my own releases, these are just some cool projects I wanted to share with everyone.

COMICS:

It is an interesting time for indie comics. With crowdfunding sites like KickStarter and Indiegogo, these gifted writers and artists are bringing their vision to the world.  In some cases whether the world is ready or not!

As I prepare to re-launch my own comic book title I enjoy checking out what's new in comics on KickStarter.

***
Cornrows #1

Urban fantasy, no heroes and a story of revenge.  I read over the story description and it caught my attention immediately.  A high school phys. ed teacher dons a mask to avenge the death of a student.  As someone who lived in Baltimore for a time, I find the setting choice very powerful.  If you're looking for a gritty title that doesn't pull its punches, you need to see Cornrows #1.





***

SuperKids! Mental Health Support Coloring Book

I discovered this campaign by accident, when Bill Shatner (Captain Kirk himself) tweeted out a link to it.  I looked it over and knew I wanted to help this project succeed.  I've backed this project myself.

This project creates coloring books for sick children in hospitals, which just makes it the 'feel-good' campaign of the year for me.  The example pages on the campaign are well done, with excellent attention to the lettering.

This is not your typical comic / coloring book KickStarter campaign.  Check it out.


***

GAMES

Treacherous Traps for 5th Edition!

This is the RPG KickStarter campaign that all of my friends are talking about.  Launched by the fine folks at Nord Games (these guys know their RPG's), this campaign is rapidly reaching for its next stretch goal, where trap schematics get added to the book. 

This project boasts both a book and decks of cards for the creation, generation of unique trap combinations.  A fantastically ambitious title and one that promises to bring new and exciting challenges to tabletop role playing games everywhere.




With 2019 off to a strong start on KickStarter, I look forward to what the creative communities bring to our little blue world in the coming months. 

I hope you'll check out the projects presented here, share the link with others, and help these creators to reach their goals by supporting their campaigns.

*****

Thank you for joining me on my adventure today.
This post has been a bit different from my normal fare as I am preparing for my own KickStarter campaign launch for 47 Furious Tails, Issue one.
I hope you'll check that campaign out when it launches on January 23rd.

Thank you